Can Cats Eat Pumpkin?

Key takeaway

Pumpkin is non-toxic to cats, but that doesn't mean they should eat it regularly. While pumpkin can reduce symptoms of GI issues like constipation and diarrhea, healthy cats don't need pumpkin in their diet. However, if your cat seems interested in human food, sharing a ½ tablespoon of plain, canned pumpkin is generally safe.

Fall is upon us! And with the changing of leaves come seasonal treats and decorations like pumpkins. As a cat parent, it's normal to wonder what festive snacks you can share with your furry friend. Cats are carnivores, so they don't need pumpkins in their diet to be healthy. Still, your cat might enjoy pumpkin every now and then. 

When considering what seasonal treats to share with your cat, you might wonder, "Can cats eat pumpkin?" Pumpkin is a safe and even healthy treat for cats, but they should only consume plain cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin. 

Is Pumpkin Safe For Cats?

If you're wondering, "Can cats have pumpkin?" you'll be glad to know that pumpkin is generally safe and healthy for cats when served in moderation. Of course, not all pumpkin products are safe for your pet, so it's always best to feed them canned plain pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree for cats. 

Cats should never eat pumpkin pie or other pumpkin products like coffee creamer or pumpkin-flavored candy. Cats can digest pumpkin, but their bodies aren't designed to digest sugars, flavoring, and fats found in many pumpkin products.  

So, can cats eat pumpkin? Technically, yes, but they should only eat plain pumpkin that doesn't contain any additional spices like pumpkin pie filling or canned pumpkin with added sugar or salt. 

Benefits Of Giving Pumpkin To Your Cat

While pumpkin is considered safe and even beneficial for cats, you might wonder, "Is pumpkin good for cats?" The answer is a little more complex and depends on your cat’s health and why you’re feeding them pumpkin. 

Ultimately, cats don't need pumpkins in their diets because they're obligate carnivores. They have special dietary needs to ensure their health, requiring lots of meat and little need for carbs.1 Ultimately, pumpkins, fruits, and vegetables aren't necessary for cats, and eating too many carbs can cause GI issues in cats. 

That being said, having a small bite of a non-toxic treat every once in a while shouldn't cause any health complications, and pumpkin may provide cats with a few benefits, including:

  • Weight Management: Pumpkin may also be a good treat for cats suffering from obesity because fiber takes longer to digest, helping your cat stay fuller for longer.1 Therefore, adding pumpkin as a meal topper may prevent hungry cats from overeating throughout the day. 
  • Constipation and Diarrhea Relief: Pumpkin contains fiber, which can ease GI issues like constipation and diarrhea. Fiber can help cats defecate easier when suffering from diarrhea by adding bulk to their stool. In addition, fiber prevents and eases constipation by helping digested food move through the colon easier.2

Ultimately, pumpkin isn't necessary for your cat's diet because they need meat. While pumpkin puree nutrition contains some vitamins and minerals, your cat is already getting everything they need from their regular cat diet of kibble and wet food. However, if your cat is experiencing digestive issues like diarrhea, your vet may suggest using pumpkin to help ease their symptoms by regulating bowel movements and improving digestive health.

Potential Risks Of Giving Pumpkin To Your Cat

Like strawberries, pumpkin is non-toxic to cats, but that doesn't mean they should eat them. Your cat's diet doesn't require pumpkin, and because pumpkin is technically a carb, it may cause issues in some cats since they don't digest carbs as easily as they do meat products. In addition, pumpkin is high in calories, so feeding your cat too much pumpkin or feeding them pumpkin regularly may increase their daily caloric intake and lead to weight gain and digestive issues in cats. If your cat has never eaten pumpkin before, adding too much fiber to their diet too quickly can cause constipation, gas, bloating, and diarrhea and change cat poop frequency, so it's always best to start with a small serving to see how they react. 

Additionally, cats shouldn't consume raw pumpkin because it can cause GI issues since it's difficult to digest. The stem, skin, and pulp can also be dangerous to cats because they're potential choking hazards and difficult to digest, causing GI issues and even intestinal blockages in some pets. 

Pumpkin Feeding Guidelines For Cats

The safest way to feed your cat pumpkin puree is right out of a can. However, when feeding your cat canned pumpkin, avoid products that contain added flavoring, spices, and sugar.2 These additional ingredients could be potentially dangerous to cats. For example, some canned pumpkin might contain xylitol, a dangerous sugar alternative that can result in hypoglycemia and liver failure in small doses. Therefore, only feed your cat single-ingredient canned pumpkin once or twice daily, depending on your vet's recommendations. 

If you're not feeding your cat pumpkin as a treatment for diarrhea, you should only serve them one teaspoon at a time, and it should not become an everyday treat. When feeding your cat pumpkin as a snack, follow the ten percent rule, which states your cat's treats should not make up more than 10% of their diet. Instead, try giving them ½ tablespoon every now and then during the holiday season. In addition, some cats should not eat pumpkin. For example, cats suffering from obesity and diabetes may be on a restricted diet that prohibits any human food. 

Since cat food allergies are more common than you would think, your cat can be allergic to pumpkins, so you should always monitor them after feeding them something new. 

It's also important to note that not all types of pumpkin are safe for cats; they should only eat plain, canned pumpkin puree to prevent potential health issues. Pumpkin pie filling is unsafe for cats because it contains additional ingredients like sugar, spices, and milk. Spices like cinnamon can be dangerous to cats when consumed in large quantities, while cats have lactose intolerance, preventing them from properly digesting dairy products like milk. Raw pumpkin is also considered relatively safe, but it's difficult for cats to digest and may cause GI issues. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cats allergic to pumpkin? 

Cats are not inherently allergic to pumpkin but can have allergies to certain foods, including pumpkin. Food allergies are not the same as food intolerances. Instead, they develop when the cat's immune system overreacts to food, causing a host of symptoms, including:

  • Itchy skin
  • Overgrooming and hair loss
  • Crusty skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting3

If your cat is showing any of the signs of food allergies, you should contact your vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment. In most cases, food allergies are not life-threatening, but they can cause distress. When feeding your cat pumpkin for the first time, be sure to monitor them for signs of illness, including food allergies and GI issues. 

Can pumpkin help with cat diarrhea?

Pumpkin for cats can reduce cat diarrhea by adding bulk to the stool. Since fiber is harder to digest, it supports gut health to improve a variety of GI issues, including diarrhea and constipation. In addition, pumpkins contain prebiotics that support the maintenance of good bacteria in the gut. Of course, treating your cat's diarrhea depends on the cause of their diarrhea, so you should never try to treat your cat's health issues without consulting a vet. Luckily, if your cat has a simple case of GI issues resulting in diarrhea, a little bit of pumpkin might be enough to firm the stool and reduce straining or discomfort when defecating. 

Pumpkin can also have the opposite effect. Feeding your cat too much pumpkin can lead to constipation or diarrhea, so always check with a vet to determine how much pumpkin you should feed your cat. 

Can you give a cat pumpkin every day? 

Pumpkin for cats is relatively safe, but can cats have pumpkin every day? Giving cats pumpkin every day is not recommended because it can contribute to weight gain. Pumpkins are full of carbs, so even though they're non-toxic and can promote gut health, they're not the healthiest snack for your cat. Cats need to eat meat to stay healthy, and feeding them pumpkin regularly can make them feel too full to eat their regular cat food. In addition, feeding them pumpkin means increasing their daily caloric intake, which can lead to weight problems.

Cat laying on blanket next to a pumpkin

Final Notes

Plain, canned pumpkin is safe and may even be used to treat GI issues like constipation and diarrhea in cats. However, your cat doesn't need pumpkin in their diet. We understand the desire to share all types of snacks with your cat, especially if they show an interest when you're eating. If you choose to share pumpkin with your cat, only feed it to them in moderation to prevent potentially dangerous weight gain.

Overfeeding your cat pumpkin can result in constipation or diarrhea, so it's always best to consult a vet before feeding your cat anything new. We're experts in all things cats, so whether you're wondering why your cat has bad breath or looking for more human foods safe for cats, Dutch can answer all your questions. Try Dutch today. 

References

  1. “Cats Are Carnivores, so They Should Eat like One.” VMBS News, 11 Mar. 2022, https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/cats-are-carnivores-so-they-should-eat-like-one/.

  2. “Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/nutrition/benefits-pumpkin-cats.

  3. “Food Allergy in Cats.” PDSA, https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/pet-health-hub/conditions/food-allergy-in-cats.